Today in I Need a Better Class of Detractor

Well, specifically this silly person said I would never earn out [x] amount of money I got as an advance, and also that I would in fact never see [x] amount of money, because of reasons they left unspecified but which I assume were to suggest that my contracts would be cancelled long before I got the payout. As [x] amount of money seems to suggest this silly person is talking about my multi-book multi-year contracts, let me say:

1. lol, no;

2. [x] was not the sum for any of my contracts (either for individual works or in aggregate) so that’s wrong to begin with;

3. It’s pretty clear that this silly person has very little idea how advances work in general, or how they are paid out;

4. It’s also pretty clear this silly person has very little idea how advances work with long-term, multi-project contracts in particular, or how they are paid out;

5. Either this silly person has never signed a book contract, or they appear to have done a very poor job of negotiating their contracts;

6. In any event, it’s very clear this silly person has no idea about the particulars of my business.

Which makes sense as I don’t go into great detail about them in public. But it does mean that people asserting knowledge of my business are likely to be flummoxed by the actual facts. Like, for example, the fact that I’m already earning royalties on work tied into those celebrated-yet-apparently-actually-cursed contracts. Royalties, I’ll note for those of you not in the publishing industry, are paid out after you earn back an advance.

How am I getting royalties on a work tied to contracts that this silly person has assured all and sundry I will never earn out? The short answer is because I’ve earned out, obviously. The slightly longer answer is that my business deals are interesting and complex and designed to roll money to me on a steady basis over a long period of time, but when you are a silly person who apparently knows nothing about how book contracts work (either my specific ones, or by all indications book contracts in general) and you have an animus against me because, say, you’re an asshole, or because of group identification politics that require that I must actually be a raging failure, for reasons, you are prone to assert things that are stupid about my business and show your complete ignorance of it. And then I might be inclined to point and laugh about it.

In any event, this is a fine time to remind people of two things. The first thing is that I have detractors, and it’s very very important to them that I’m seen as a failure. There’s nothing I can ever do or say to dissuade them against this idea, so the least I can do is offer them advice, which is to make their assertions of my failure as non-specific as possible, because specificity is not their friend. I would also note to them that regardless, my failures, real or imagined, will not make them any more successful in their own careers. So perhaps they should focus on the things they can materially effect, i.e., their own writing and career, and worry less about what I’m doing.

Second, if someone other than me, my wife, my agent or my business partners (in the context of their own contracts with me) attempts to assert knowledge of my business, you may reliably assume they are talking out of their ass. This particularly goes for my various detractors, most of whom don’t appear to have any useful understanding of how the publishing industry works outside of their (and this is a non-judgmental statement) self-pub and micro-pub worlds, which are different beasts than the part I work in, and also just generally dislike me and want me to be a miserable failure and are annoyed when I persist in not being either. Wishing won’t make it so, guys.

Bear in mind speculating about my business is perfectly fine, and even if it wasn’t I couldn’t stop it anyway. Speculate away! People have done it for years, both positively and negatively, and most of the time it’s fun to watch people guess about it. Even this silly person’s speculation is kind of fun, in the sense it’s interesting to see all the ways it’s wrong. But to the extent that the unwary may believe this silly person (or other such silly people among my detractors, and as a spoiler they are all fairly silly on this topic) knows what they are talking about with regard to my business: Honey, no. They really don’t. They have their heads well up their asses.

Or, as I said on Twitter:

And actually the dog has been in the same room as my contracts, so in fact she might know more. Keep that in mind the next time a detractor opines on my business.

61 Comments on “Today in I Need a Better Class of Detractor”

  1. If you’re wondering why I didn’t link to the particular piece I’m talking about, the answer is, I didn’t feel like it. Feel free to seek out that particular garbage fire on your own; it’s not that hard to find.

  2. I’m really thinking that various Business of Writing panels and advice need to include “focus on establishing yourself as yourself, rather than trying to position yourself as a successful person’s archnemesis.” Because, man, are some people insisting on doing that, despite it being a garbage fire thing to do.

  3. Marshall Ryan Maresca:

    That’s because those people don’t have confidence in the quality of their own work, I suspect, and also because they’re just generally assholes.

  4. And FWIW you might live in rural Ohio but you don’t have access to MY tractor.
    First it’s not in rural Ohio. And second I’ve not granted you access – unless your dog negotiated that with my dog while neither of us were watching ?

    So you might need to clarify that you have access to a lot of tractors, or many tractors.
    But not all.

    Should you ever want to stop by we could negotiate about my tractor :P

  5. Googling for “generally assholes” and lo – there’s that person as the result ! :)
    Gotta love google :)

    I’ll have to have a talk with the dog.

  6. You’ve been ego-surfing again, haven’t you John? You KNOW about this… that way lie assholes. Also twits. Not to mention the clueless idiots.

  7. You should re run that “insult John scalzi” contest from ?? years back. You will definitely get a better class of detractor from that.

  8. Eek. I admire your sense of humour in the face of nonsense like this. You’re stronger than I am! I know myself and I’d be so anxious over being analyzed like that online. It’s genuinely admirable that you’re able to turn the nonsense into a levelheaded discussion of how publishing actually, you know, works.

    Well, to focus on the good, congratulations on earning out your advance and getting royalties!

  9. A co-worker whose behavior I won’t go into here, other than to say they caused more stress and tension in a few months than I had in five years with my current employer and nearly made me quit one of the most stress-free jobs I’ve ever had, made me come up with on the following guidelines:

    1) Avoid assholes whenever possible.
    2) If assholes can’t be avoided, ignore them as much as possible.
    3) If assholes can’t be ignored, interact with them as little as possible.

  10. It would be nice to be worth $13M (or especially $600M!) but not splashed all over the Internets. Give me the money but not the fame, thank you very much.

  11. Wow. You’re not only ruining science fiction, you’re ruining the assholes’ schadenfreude. (Come to think of it, Schadenfreude of the Assholes would be an excellent name for a rock band)

  12. It’s impossible to reason someone out of something they were never reasoned into. Those of us who believe in facts often forget that to the Fox News/RSHD/MAGA/asshole crowd, facts are occasionally interesting, but not really germane to how they establish their beliefs.

    They believe that something that rhymes is truer than something that doesn’t. They believe that “common sense” is more important than “scientific research.” They believe that everything was great in the (largely mythical) past, and that liberals and other traitors have screwed it up. They believe scientists are wrong about anything that’s inconvenient for them, especially if only 97% of scientists agree. They believe that being certain implies being correct (whereas in fact the people who are least certain are most often right, because they keep checking and testing and confirming).

    If they are your detractors, that in itself is a ringing endorsement.

  13. On the one hand, as amusing as these posts of yours are, they do make me want to seek out the detractors’ pieces so I can laugh at them more directly (in my own head, anyway).

    On the other hand, it’s gotten to the point that reading anything written by your detractors makes me want to gouge my eyes out, and so I successfully resist.

    I guess this is personal growth or something!

  14. Wait . . . are you saying that slices of pizza have never been in the same room as your contracts?

    Because I’m having a hard time wrapping my head about that one . . .

  15. Dude, a third of Americans cannot even name the three branches of the American Govt and you expect them to know book contracts?? El Oh El

  16. Rob Dye:

    Not that particular piece.


    I don’t expect the general populace to know about book contracts, no. On the other hand, if you ignorantly opine about my business, which includes my book contracts, I may feel free to correct you.

  17. That is weird. I’m reminded of our Brexiteers; passionately obsessed with their picture of a world which doesn’t exist, trying to harass those living in the real world because they won’t sign up for the delusions…

  18. Ok. So, you say silly speculation is allowed? In that case, I speculate that there’s a “Unicorn Farting Rainbows” clause in your contracts. In this clause, for each book that you write that makes a best seller list (any best seller list, even if it’s the “Ed’s Beer Shack and Booksellers Best Seller List and Wine Pairing List”) a unicorn (to be supplied, but not necessarily owned by) TOR must be forced to fart out at least one and no more than three rainbows. Said farting is to be documented in both video and written form and certified by a qualified gastrointestinal researcher from the Johns Hopkins Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology no later than the fifth day after the book appears on said best seller list.

    I figure that’s all based on the same level of facts as the original speculation, so it seems equally probable. Just because.

  19. Man, I’d love to be a failure like you. I think your detractors, secretly or not so secretly, would as well.

  20. The detractor in question (it wasn’t hard for me to figure out) clearly has more issues than National Geographic … and needs to lay off of his “everyone’s against me because I’m a Christian male” rhetoric.

  21. You so funnee.
    (Maybe if your detractors tried being more funny they’d have more readers.)

  22. This reminds me of the guy who ambushed you at the book signing, asking if you wanted to get in on the betting pool of whether Tor would renegotiate your contract. You handled the situation with superhuman aplomb and graciousness. There’s a YouTube video of it if you weren’t aware, but I won’t link to it, because screw him and his “team.” I personally would love to get in on any betting pool with this dummy.

  23. I admire your sense of humour in the face of nonsense like this. You’re stronger than I am!

    As they say, living well is the best revenge.

    And the best thing is that Scalzi has such a large audience, this sort of response (which is fairly off the cuff and not that time consuming) is going to generate far more amusement and entertainment than anything stirred up by his detractors.

  24. My curiosity has been whetted, but I can’t locate the offending post that prompted this blog entry. I know we don’t want to post a direct link, but can someone throw me a bone and suggest search terms I can use to find it?

  25. I have no confidence in my work, even to the degree that I don’t even write! I can also be an asshole, and I have no understanding of the business of writing. I think I’m an ideal candidate for Scalzi arch-nemesis.

    Fie on you, Scalzi, you swollen parcel of dropsies! I bite my thumb at you!

    When do I start? And can I get an advance?

  26. And the most germane question of all to this discussion — How did you get Daisy to leave the slice of pizza alone long enough for your to take that picture? Even the best trained dogs I know would have trouble with that.

    Srsly, if you are keeping up your end of the contract by writing and making your readers happy enough to continue buying your books, it’s all sour grapes on the detractors’ parts. Nanny-nanny-boo-boo.

  27. The problem with insulting people is that Monty Python has already collected all the best insults:

    French soldier: “I don’t want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal-food-trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries.”

    Beside that, wittering on about advances is meaningless.

  28. Clearly, if this gentleman is so concerned about your ability to pay off your advance, the only appropriate thing for him to do is buy a copy of one of your books. If he already has all of your books, perhaps he could donate a copy to a library.

  29. I admire the way you handle your detractors, with grace and humor. I wish I could do as well.

    It must drive them stark raving nuts.

  30. @phhht – to be far, it’s a pretty short drive for most of them.

    And congratulations to John for continuing to not sell books, but yet still get royalty checks from the SJW cabal. Or something, I’m not wading into the drivel to see what some dumbass is saying on the internet. I”d go read YouTube comments if I wanted to lose the will to live.

  31. Scalzi is so rich he feeds his dog pizza! ON THE CARPET!! “Order us another carpet, Krissy. This one’s stained.”

  32. The depth of my not caring about how much Scalzi makes or doesn’t make is measured in astronomical units. I really don’t care. It surprises me Scalzi wasted the time it took to write this post. It surprises me I took the time to write this comment.

  33. *don’s tinfoil hat*
    You may have fooled everyone else, Mr. Scalzi, but not I! I know the true hidden meaning behind this post!

    Food? Next to one of the family pets? Clearly, this is a nefarious attempt to recreate the internet craze of BACONCAT!!
    *removes shiny headgear*

    Now that’s a far more interesting conspiracy.

  34. I’m torn between which is more appropriate “Living Well is the Best Revenge” or “Judge a Man by the Quality of His Enemies”. Upon consideration I’d have to go with the latter, simply because you have no cause for revenge against the folk in question.

  35. @Schnookums Why would you insult Scalzi like that? If we’re talking about the usual suspects here, that’s a pretty low quality of enemy.

  36. I”d go read YouTube comments if I wanted to lose the will to live.

    I remember seeing a quote by someone who said something like: “I read somewhere that the average woman in the UK has 2.4 children. I wondered what happened to all those 0.4 people: then I read the comments section on the Daily Mail website.”

  37. Sounds like that person doesn’t follow sports either, as most pro contracts are roughly structured the same way: x amount of dollars spread out over x amount of years, and most athletes are paid on bi-weekly/month basis. To say you wouldn’t earn out the length of your contract is like saying a sports player won’t earn out his. Guaranteed money is guaranteed money and to say otherwise is to have no concept of money.

  38. oye oye oye
    Just when I think the humanbrain has shrunk to the size of a walnut, new horizons of pea brains who have nothing better to do than speculate about other people, appear. Pea brains marching row on row over the horizon.
    Jeez…do they have a purpose?
    I just cannot stop stabing myself with the world of illogical, vitupriutive, hostile guys on a drunk binge comments after every sane story on my Facebook feed. They must be drunk, right? Have they no dishes to wash ?
    I am reduced to pictures of Scotties in Switzerland performing agilty…highly recommended…and the weather…not so great but the doppler maps change every day. We had a tornado in Oregon! It took out two barns! It was sized zero, but hey, we never get tornados!
    Not to disparage squirrely sized mentalities as they certainly keep my dog hopping uselessly over and over and over. I digress.
    Thanks JS universe for makng me with laugh out loud in my morning coffee session.
    Though it is a bit annoying for you to have unwell wishers ( in both grammarical uses of unwell), I thank the sad bozo with the imaginary book contract universe for giving you a reason write something pointed and quite funny and brinigng out the absurd.
    Now back to Scotties jumping over hurrdles with their short little legs.

  39. @Dragoness Eclectic

    Well, I didn’t include the full quote, which puts it in a better light: “You can always judge a man not by his friends, but by the quality of his enemies. A good man will never have enemies who are anything but petty and childish. A bad man will have enemies that are legion. Who it is that dislikes a man reveals much about the man himself.” ~ Wicasta Lovelace

  40. Wait. I don’t understand that picture. There’s a slice of pizza on the floor in front of the dog, and she’s looking at the camera?

  41. The Pizza-fed dog and the Bacon Cat
    Side by side on the internet sat.
    The URL read (what do you think!)
    The sad white dude and the rabid pup
    Carefully showed why down was up
    And planned for an ultimate coup d’etat.
    (I wasn’t there; I was cleaning up
    From the recent rants of the rabid pup.)

  42. So…Voxman knows less about the publishing industry than my left nut does?

    No wonder his vanity press is failing.

    In all honesty, Mr. Scalzi, why even bother with pointing out that he’s an idiot who’s talking out of his ass? Literally everyone can see that he’s an idiot who’s talking out of his ass, and the people that like him anyway are mostly Nazis.

  43. “Someone pointed me at it, actually, and I had just finished work, so”

    And you followed it!? When you could have (since you were done with work) been killing zombies?!!!

    Wait, zombies are braindead, these guys are… OK, yeah, you kind of were dispensing with zombies. :)

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